DR 98-157
                              DR 98-158
                              DR 98-159
                              DR 98-147
        Chichester, Kearsarge and Meriden Telephone Companies
         Earnings Investigations and Petition to Consolidate
                Order Establishing Procedural Schedule
                       O R D E R   N O.  23,060
                           November 4, 1998
         The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission
(Commission) opened an inquiry regarding the earnings levels of
Chichester Telephone Company, Kearsarge Telephone Company, and
Meriden Telephone Company (Chichester, Kearsarge and Meriden
respectively and the Companies collectively) in early August
1998.  On August 18, 1998 the Companies filed a petition for
approval of their merger into one corporation.  The merger
petition includes a proposal to expand Extended Area Service
(EAS).  The Staff of the Commission (Staff) and the Companies
participated in discussions regarding these common issues on
August 27, 1998.  By Orders of Notice issued on September 18,1998
the Commission scheduled concurrent prehearing conferences for
October 12, 1998 on the earnings investigations (DRs 98-157,
98-158, and 98-159) and the merger petition (DE 98-147).
         At the duly noticed prehearing conference, the
Companies, Staff, and the Office of the Consumer Advocate stated
their respective positions regarding the dockets, described
below.  No intervenors appeared at the prehearing conference. 
         Staff explained that an analysis of each company's
revenue situation requires an audit by the Commission's Finance
Department, an exercise that will also aid in the analysis of the
merger petition under the "no net harm" standard adhered to by
the Commission pursuant to prior case law.  Staff stated that it
has no objection to the proposed merger and that it believes that
Chichester, Kearsarge, and Meriden are overearning.  Because the
overearnings investigation and the merger analysis are
intertwined, Staff recommends that temporary rates should be set
at current levels in order to make reconcilation possible at the
time permanent rates are determined.
         Counsel for the Chichester, Kearsarge, and Meriden
indicated that the Commission act as quickly as possible to
approve the proposed merger in order to permit the companies to
implement EAS expansion simultaneously with other
telecommunication carriers statewide.  The Companies contested
Staff's claims of overearnings for Kearsarge and Meriden,
indicating an intention to ask for higher temporary rates for
those two companies.  Subsequent to the prehearing conference,
however, by letter dated October 26, 1998, Chichester, Kearsarge
and Meriden agreed with Staff that temporary rates for each of
these companies should be set at current rates, with those rates
effective upon the issuance of an order subsequent to the
temporary rate hearing date. 
         The OCA took no position on any of the dockets,
reserving judgment until further investigation can be completed.
         Immediately subsequent to the prehearing conference,
the parties and Staff met for technical discussions on the issues
and to agree upon a procedural schedule to govern all four
dockets.  The procedural schedule set out below includes a
temporary hearing date but, in light of the Companies' decision
to agree upon temporary rates at current levels, does not include
testimony and discovery dates for temporary rates.

                             DR 98-157, 158, 159           DE 98-147

Temporary Rate Hearing                   11/6/98                N/A

Staff and OCA Rolling Data Request
 and Company Responses (E.I.)*              10/23/98-2/1/99               N/A

Staff Audit                            2/1/99-3/12/99           N/A

Staff Audit Reports Draft                   3/12/99             N/A

* E.I. means earnings investigation

Company Testimony (Merger)                     N/A                   2/25/99

Staff and OCA Data Requests (Merger)                N/A                   3/4/99

Company Data Responses (Merger)                      N/A                  3/18/99

Staff and OCA Data Requests (E.I.)                      3/18/99             N/A

Company Data Responses  (E.I.)              3/25/99                             N/A

Staff and OCA Data Requests (Merger)                        N/A                      3/25/99

Company Data Responses (Merger)                      N/A                  4/1/99

Staff and OCA Testimony                                      4/15/99           4/15/99   
Company Data Requests                  4/22/99             4/22/99

Staff and OCA Data Responses           5/5/99                   5/5/99

Settlement Discussions                 5/12/99             5/12/99

Company Testimony (E.I.)                  
Company Rebuttal Testimony (Merger)         5/20/99             5/20/99

Staff and OCA Data Requests            5/27/99             5/27/99

Company Data Responses                 6/9/99                   6/9/99

Settlement Discussions                      6/15/99             6/15/99

Stipulation (if any)                             6/17/99             6/17/99

Hearings                          6/22-25/99               6/22-25/99
                                     and 6/29-7/1/99              and 6/29-7/1/99

         We have considered the relevant factors pertaining to 
these dockets and find the procedural schedule to be reasonable.
         Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
         ORDERED, that the procedural schedule outlined above is
         By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
Hampshire this fourth day of November, 1998.

               Douglas L. Patch     Susan S. Geiger        Nancy Brockway
                   Chairman            Commissioner         Commissioner

Attested by:

Thomas B. Getz
Executive Director and Secretary